A Unique View on Healthcare Digital Marketing

by | Feb 12, 2020 | Digital Strategy

Having guided the digital marketing strategy for healthcare systems, our digital team leads can relate to the highs and lows that come with the territory. Here’s how that translates into their roles at True North Custom, along with their take on trends with the greatest potential impact on healthcare digital marketing.

Ashley Dufrene, Senior Digital Marketing SpecialistMichael Robideau, Senior Digital Marketing Specialist

Ash­ley Dufrene and Michael Robideau, senior dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ists at True North, have both walked a mile in the shoes of health sys­tem mar­keters, hav­ing pre­vi­ous­ly served at Hal­i­fax Health (Flori­da) and Fairview Health Ser­vices (Min­neso­ta), respec­tive­ly. Here’s how they’re lever­ag­ing that expe­ri­ence, their dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing exper­tise and healthy dos­es of empa­thy to help health­care clients nav­i­gate a path to success.

Why did you decide to shift to the strategic partner side of the marketing relationship? 

Ash­ley: Whether I am work­ing at a health sys­tem or on the agency side, being a strate­gic part­ner is ingrained in me. I want­ed to work for True North because the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be a strate­gic part­ner for many health sys­tems, instead of just one, was very appeal­ing. [Watch Ash­ley share addi­tion­al per­spec­tive on why she joined True North in this video.]

Health care, and the under­stand­ing of health care and what you have access to in your com­mu­ni­ty, is very impor­tant in this coun­try. I feel peo­ple still hear “health care” and think of it as this com­pli­cat­ed beast and try to avoid it at all cost. To me that is not a fair assess­ment, and com­mu­ni­ties need to under­stand what access they have to care.

Michael: The great thing about dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, and why I love the indus­try so much, is the fact that what you do today could com­plete­ly change tomor­row. Now that I’m on the strate­gic part­ner side of the equa­tion, I am able to push my lim­its more and build off my skill sets to con­tin­ue help­ing clients grow and succeed.

How does your previous experience working for health systems inform your work at True North?

Ash­ley: I know there is more to the sto­ry. Some peo­ple see a hos­pi­tal build­ing, and that’s often all they see: a build­ing. Most do not real­ize what tru­ly goes on inside of that build­ing and the access to amaz­ing care.

That access car­ries through to all health­care sys­tems or hospitals­—each has many dif­fer­ent attrib­ut­es that make it the best. Know­ing how to make the com­mu­ni­ty aware of those attrib­ut­es is a game chang­er. My goal is to help fos­ter the rela­tion­ship between com­mu­ni­ties and their health­care providers so they’re clos­er than ever before.

Michael: I come from a unique sit­u­a­tion in that, when I start­ed my pre­vi­ous job, I was work­ing with three of the largest health­care providers in the state of Min­neso­ta, all at the same time. I helped lead the new brand­ing efforts when they all merged and have expe­ri­ence with numer­ous aspects of health care.

I have worked in every­thing from pri­ma­ry care to most forms of spe­cial­ty care to edu­ca­tion­al med­i­cine. There is lit­tle that can be thrown at me in terms of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing for health­care orga­ni­za­tions that I haven’t already seen, test­ed and cre­at­ed a strate­gic plan for.

What are some of the greatest challenges health systems face when it comes to digital marketing? How do you help clients overcome those challenges?

Ash­ley: Even though dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing is not a new con­cept, it’s still an emerg­ing con­cept in health care. A pri­ma­ry rea­son for that is HIPAA. Many sys­tems avoid­ed using online mar­ket­ing because of patient pri­va­cy information.

Now that those estab­lished rules about HIPAA com­pli­ance are in place, the health indus­try is more open to using dig­i­tal. But where do you start? That is where we come in. We know the rules, we know what you can and can­not do when it comes to health­care dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, and we bring that knowl­edge to our clients every day to ensure they remain com­plaint while get­ting the results they’re look­ing for.

Michael: Hon­est­ly, when we talk about dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, one of the biggest areas that needs work is just the effort. There is often this idea of, “Every­one needs health care, why adver­tise?” But that is the fur­thest thing from the truth. Con­sumers today are very savvy and con­scious of their deci­sions, and with all the tech­nol­o­gy at their fin­ger­tips, it’s more impor­tant than ever to place your brand mes­sage out there.

On top of that, the health­care indus­try is chang­ing by the minute. How brands adver­tise to con­sumers has become a chal­leng­ing puz­zle as providers start to look at how they com­pete, not only with your stan­dard health­care providers, but also with new providers in the mar­ket such as Ama­zon and Wal­mart. These brands def­i­nite­ly have the abil­i­ty to change the way health care oper­ates, and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work in the area is exciting.

What are some digital marketing trends you anticipate having the most impact on health systems in 2020 and beyond?

Ash­ley: Three words: Trim the fat. Now that there have been sev­er­al years of data to show­case what works and what doesn’t in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing for health care, many orga­ni­za­tions will start trim­ming the fat—focusing on niche tar­get­ing efforts to ensure they are get­ting the right mes­sage in front of their con­sumers at the right time to achieve the goal conversion.

Since health care was late in the game get­ting into dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, we have seen orga­ni­za­tions over­spend on dig­i­tal efforts just to not get the results they were told could be achieved (because they didn’t know bet­ter). But now the knowl­edge has caught up. We are see­ing a shift in health sys­tems: They’re con­sol­i­dat­ing ven­dors and try­ing to find strate­gic part­ners that can align on all fronts of mar­ket­ing, not just one aspect of it.

Michael: Right now, look­ing at how Wal­mart and Ama­zon will poten­tial­ly change the way health care oper­ates is crazy to me. Today, you can slip, fall and break your arm, and while wait­ing for your X‑ray results (which you got at Wal­mart), you can shop and pre­pare for your day. Wal­mart has already start­ed rolling out clin­ics with­in their stores—and not just minute clin­ics, but ful­ly oper­a­tional offices.

Or, imag­ine being able to ask Alexa to con­tact your doc­tor for a pre­scrip­tion refill, or even have a face-to-face con­ver­sa­tion with a doc­tor, all with your infor­ma­tion and vitals being tak­en from your Alexa device. This is the future of health care, and the change that it will bring is incred­i­bly exciting.

Let’s Talk Timing (and More)

Our health­care mar­ket­ing experts are ready to tai­lor a strat­e­gy that ensures your con­tent reach­es con­sumers, physi­cians and oth­er audi­ences at the per­fect time.

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